PHI 2369—Bioethics

 Bioethics Essay

PHI 2369—Bioethics


 Do 1 (one) of the following questions.

 Length: 7-9 typed, double-spaced pages.

 Value: 35% of total mark

 1] Explain and evaluate the Smith and Jones cases. Is there a moral difference between active euthanasia and passive euthanasia? Consider this in connection with killing and letting die. To what extent can we draw conclusions about what our policies should be from consideration of abstract conceptual issues such as these? Relevant texts include Rachels, Battin, Callahan.


2] Could the benefits argument plausibly support experimentation on non-human animals? If so, would it simultaneously prohibit experiments on humans? Overall, how much is non-human medical experimentation like medical research on incompetent humans? Relevant texts include Regan, Singer, Cohen, Frey.


3] Is the issue of whether a right to self-determination can imply a right of others to help one achieve such things as ending one’s life central to the question of moral status of physician-assisted suicide? Relevant texts include Battin, Callahan, Sneddon.


4] How much do the ethics of clinical research overlap with the ethics of therapy? Relevant texts include Miller and Brody, and earlier readings on patient-physician relationships.

5] How well do Battin’s cultural reflections and recommendations for handling death in the US fit Canada? Other relevant texts: Sneddon

Some instructions:

1] See the syllabus for some general guidelines about writing essays.


2] Don’t do extra research. Stick to the course material. There is plenty here to digest and think about. Not everything out there on these general topics is directly relevant to these specific topics. Even less of it is good. Save your efforts for useful work and skip the library and, especially, electronic resources.


3] Aim for clarity of expression. Write as if your audience is an intelligent, interested, but uninformed reader. What needs to be explained for this person to follow the issues? If you can convey the ideas at this level of clarity, you are writing well.


4] The first person (“I”, “me”) is useful for clear writing and hence acceptable. However, the point of an essay is not self-expression. What matters is what rational people should think about these issues, not what you (or I) happen to think. If you are presenting your opinion about something, be sure to explain the considerations that make your position attractive to any rational person.


5] You have two jobs. First, show your knowledge of the course material. Second, show that you can use the course material to answer the question that you have chosen. The second job requires more than regurgitation of the course material. It calls for reflection on it.


6] Some of you have been taught a five paragraph essay format. Don’t use this; it’s terrible. A paragraph should have a single idea, roughly speaking, which means that they are often quite short. You should probably have more than one per page, meaning an essay of seven pages could easily have 12-15 paragraphs. This is much more readable than five paragraphs stretched over seven pages. An unreadable essay will get a poorer grade than a readable one.


7] The judicious use of quotes and close paraphrases is a good way to show your knowledge of the course material. When you do this, cite it somehow. I don’t care what citation format you use—philosophers use them all, depending on publishers’ preferences. Whatever method you use, be sure to include the particular page numbers from which you are citing or paraphrasing. This ties your work very closely to the source material, allowing a reader very easily to compare what you are saying with what another author said. This can be very useful to a grader who is unsure why you are saying something: a quick look at the original can illuminate your work, thereby indeed proving your knowledge of the course material. So: cite however you like, but include particular page numbers.